A Monday afternoon, a small blue VW, and a one-armed man in a dress suit: Hardly the components one is apt to conjure up when envisioning a firefight.
But such was the recipe for violence in Midway, Ga., last March when William Gordon decided to take on his family and cops in a blaze of glory.
For Midway police officer Mark Rich, his role in the situation began at 5:30 a.m. with a BOLO for a small blue VW being driven by Gordon. At the time, Gordon was wanted for burglary and setting his family's property afire. To further secure his position as Midway's Most Wanted, Gordon had also threatened to come back and kill family members.
As the hours ticked by, updates came in from both Gordon's estranged family and detectives who'd set up camp at the house to prevent Gordon from carrying out his threat. These updates usually revolved around the fact that Gordon repeatedly called the location and threatened to kill himself and his not-so-loved ones.
He's Coming Home
At 3:30 in the afternoon, the last call came in from Gordon. He was coming back to Liberty County to kill his stepfather.
Of the few routes available to Gordon, none was quicker than I-95, which connected with Highway 17. With two detectives at Gordon's destination, other law enforcement officials fanned out over the area, taking up positions to optimize their chances of intercepting Gordon at one of the two highway arteries. Officer Rich's boss, Chief Kelly Morningstar, was on one of the intercept teams.
As officers from various agencies maintained a roadside vigil, Liberty County Sheriff's Dep. Ralph Dixon's voice came on the radio. With stress audible in his voice, Dixon verified the tag number of a vehicle he was following that he believed to be Gordon's VW. The vehicle was headed toward Midway.
At that, Rich put his car in gear and started rolling from I-95.
As dispatch verified the tag number and Dixon's suspicions, Dixon advised that he would maintain his surveillance posture pending the arrival of assisting units.
Boxing Him In
Gordon reached the intersection of Highway 17 and Highway 84, then turned back toward the interstate-back toward Rich. Rich advised that he would wait for the VW at Martin Road.
With Chief Morningstar behind him, Dixon advised that they would wait until they reached a less populated area before effecting a traffic stop.
Additional units arrived. Dixon activated his blue lights in a bid to stop the VW. But the driver failed to yield and as the developing convoy passed, Rich fell in line.
Gordon now had patrol units at his rear left and right flanks. Additional units cut off arteries, simultaneously preventing new motorists from entering the danger zone and isolating the threat as much as possible.
Gordon did not yield and once again quickly approached a populated area. In a bid to box Gordon in, the patrol units attempted to position themselves about his vehicle.
But Gordon compensated with each attempt, switching from one lane to the next and back, putting the units back at square one. Throughout, Gordon didn't make any overt attempts to strike a police car, or even accelerate in a bid to escape. He seemed to have another agenda in mind.